The Hellenic Bible Society has been around since before the 1821 Greek war of independence. It started in Corfu on July 20th 1819. It was started by the British Bible Society under the name “Ionian Bible Society.” The first president was the president of the Congress of the island, Emmanouil Theotokis. Ten days later a new office was opened in the city of Argostoli, in Kefalonia. The president of this office was the bishop of the island. Another month later, yet another office opened up in Zakynthos. The first president of this office was the bishop of the island. Finally, on August 20th 1819, the British Bible Society opened an office in Athens. The Bishop of Athens was the first president of the Society. At that time, the Ionian islands were under British occupation which guaranteed the protection of England and the freedom of the constitution of 1817.
Purpose and Structure
The Hellenic Bible Society was established in 1992 as a non-profit corporation, when the British operation stopped operations. It was established with its own constitution that was first published on December 22nd, 1992 and later modified on February 19nd, 2000. The Hellenic Bible Society has a 35-member Board. The Board is comprised of members of the Orthodox, Catholic and the Evangelical church. The convention elects the Board of directors every three years.
One of the main purposes of the United Bible Societies is to translate original texts of the Holy Bible into all the languages of the world (translations from Hebrew and Septuagint for the Old Testament and from ancient Greek for the New Testament). For languages which are not known or recognized, special scientists observe the sounds and tones of the natives in order to formulate an alphabet, thus creating a written language to which even a small part of the Holy Scripture can be translated. As of today the Holy Bible, either in its entirety or partially, has been translated into 2.538 languages and dialects. It is estimated that there are still about 4.000 languages and dialects to which the Bible remains to be translated.
The Hellenic Bible Society already has offered to the Greek people three translations into different language levels.
- Translation of the entire Bible by the Archimandrite Neophytos Vamvas, Professor of the University of Athens, (1850).
- Translation of the New Testament by a group of professors of the University of Athens led by Professor Vasilios Vellas (1967).
- Translation of the entire Bible into Modern (demotic) Greek by a group of 12 Professors of the Theological Schools of Athens and Thessalonica (1997).